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Short Stay Family Vacation Rentals in Europe. Edinburgh Castle Balcony View Short Stay RentalMost families need space to function pleasantly and thus renting a self-catering flat, or short-stay apartment provides an ideal family vacation base with the comforts of home and vacation possibilities at the doorstep.
Here's the scoop. When my children were six and eight, I was introduced to the idea of renting a short stay appartment in Europe. While concluding an end of year parent-teacher conference I asked Mrs. Baan, the girl’s Spanish teacher, a fairly vague question, “Doing anything interesting this summer?”

Her retort, “Yes we have rented an apartment in Rotterdam for a month and we plan to take the kids (ages 12, 14, and 16) and live like locals.” She went on to describe previous summers spent is various cities – Paris, Vienna, Barcelona, and Budapest. Her idea was simple - find a place; set up a family vacation base and share a cultural experience with her family.Rome Apartment Courtyard Family Vacation Rental
I loved her idea and by the end of the same summer I had booked our first short-stay flat in London – a fourth floor walkup in Knightsbridge. During the winter break we booked a flat in Edinburgh with an amazing view of Edinburgh Castle and a delightful deli at the corner. The holiday was perfect except for  the one day we locked ourselves out of the flat - emergency contacts are helpful.  It seems we learn as we go and I knew in the future we could actually manage longer stays in Rome, Barcelona or Paris. One terrific resource for planning a family vacation in Europe is Short Stay Apartment rentals. While the euro to dollar exchange remains favorable for Americans, just browsing the site will be inspiring. 

Rules are rules. No two flats are the same and I learned early on that not all bedrooms have doors; furnished for four often means there are not five plates; within walking distance to a market is a relative term; no lift means stairs with suitcases; must pick up key before 18:00 really means – pick up the key - really. Nevertheless for an authentic urban family adventure a short term vacation rental abroad has obvious advantages.

Now when time allows, we agree on a destination and I find a vacation apartment, condo or flat to suit our needs. I never look for the perfect home- away-from- home, instead I look for a vacation base with efficient space, easy access to the city and the things we plan to do.

Reasons Short Term Rentals Work for Families. No two vacations will ever be the same even if you return to the same location but the benefits of staying away from the tourist stream are many.
Expect a cost savings. With hotels you are paying for not just your room but also the lobby, and assorted amenities. With a short term rental you are paying for the furnished housekeeping space. When searching make sure the short-stay vacation cost is for flat or apartment and not by number of guests. The savings will be in the numbers.Family Vacation Apartment Rental Prague

Enjoy space and comfort. Furnished vacation apartments or flats include a kitchen, separate living area and sleeping room(s). Of the vacation flats we have rented in the last decade, no two were alike. While a couple of them were obviously investment units meaning serviceable but without personality, the majority were second homes that were managed as rentals while the owners were absent and each had unique attributes and most had guest books with notes from previous guests.
Feel freedom and local connectivity. Our vacation rental experiences have evolved with years. When the children were much younger we played “let’s pretend we live here” and immediately looked for nearby parks, a green grocer, and a bookstore. We would devour tour brochures relating their location to our location, and memorize tube and bus routes (Our notes read green line, blue line any 9, 12, and 14 but never after 11PM.). Enjoy the freedom and of apartment living and always appreciated tips from local residents.Europe Family Vacation Rental Balcony View

Share vacation space with your young adults. Now that our family has matured space matters more than anything making a vacation flat ideal. We still select the city and agree on the dates but now we meet there so I do not need to manage airport travel. The first one picks up the keys and survival information and the rest just show up. Our family tradition – we dine out our first night and plan our vacation days over wine beer and coffee.
Dine in or out. The advantage of space with a kitchen can be a disadvantage if one person (a.k.a. mom) is tuck cooking and cleaning up after the others. For us the solution was simple. The kids decided to invoke hostel rules meaning shoes off at the door, pick up and clean up after yourself, leave no dirty dishes on the counter or in the sink. When we eat in we take turns cooking and cleaning up. Everyone gets a chance to cook if they wish and no one really seems to mind. We have even invited friends by for a bite making it feel to us like we are part of the city if only for a bit.
Feel like a tourist (not).  Beyond the advantage of extra space with cost savings I think the advantage for families is the chance to feel the city more like a local. City hotels by nature are islands within a complex, commercial urban maze. The folks you are likely to meet will be tourists as well. In a well- chosen, short-term rental it is possible to be within the maze and to share the city with your kids at your own pace. Stay up late and sleep ‘til noon – housekeeping will not be knocking. Get up early for a coffee at the neighborhood bakery and return with luscious pastries meant to be devoured. Europe Short Stay Family Vacation Rental
Plan ahead. First decide when and where, and how long. Then scan the destination website or buy a guidebook from your favorite bookseller. While it is not essential to decide the entire family vacation, it helps to determine the scope before looking for a short-stay apartment rental. Does proximity to the train station matter? Are you hoping to walk museums or night life or are you willing to use public transportation. Once you have a general idea it’s time to search.
Make it happen. Unless you have a friend or friend of a friend who has an apartment in Prague, Paris, London or another place on the planet, a short term rental agency is the solution. I love to share this part of the vacation planning process with my family sometimes viewing together and other times sharing links.
Look for transparency. The rental companies I like the best display photos along with unit descriptions including floor plans, building information (Is there a lift?), plus some information about the surrounding area.(Luckily now it is easy to verify surrounding facts including building appearance with Google maps.). I also appreciate knowing there is a 24-hour emergency contact available. I mean  a real person not a recording. Because the best way to enjoy Europe is to stay at least two weeks, I always like companies that offer a savings for booking two weeks or more. And my favorite companies also have a few unique rental choices available – renovated firehouse, a coach house, warehouse flats, 16th century buildings, the attic of a police station.
Barcelona, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Paris, or Rome  - Short Stay Apartments. Their philosophy is “What You See Is What You Get” and the longer the stay the better the savings. Call +31 20-800-4855, +44 203-355-2859, and in US (516)717-1616 or

Content researched and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Copyright updated 2016.